Must have been an interesting dinner at the Pharisee’s home when an uninvited guest was more hospitable than the host. No doubt embarrassing for a teacher of the law to be outdone by a no-body.
Obviously the Pharisee was prejudice against the intruder. Question is: How did he know that she was a sinful woman? Did she have a profession where he had been a customer? The Pharisee had formed his opinion about the woman. Putting people in boxes is an old practice. We make up our minds about some folks, especially if they have hurt us. The homeless, the refugees, the homosexuals—“you know, those people.” The ones we don’t like. The people who are different—who do not fit our description of what a good Catholic American from the Valley should be. Such prejudice has alienated families, caused neighbors to stop speaking with each other, been the reason for wars between nations. In the not too distant past Jews were killed because they were considered inferior. Black people were captured, brought against their will and enslaved for generations. Native Americans were robbed of their lands and put on reservations. There are indeed some skeletons in our closet. Sad to say that prejudice is alive and thriving. We continue to make judgment calls on people who do not see reality as we do. Just think, how boring our world would be if everyone thought the same way, worshiped the same, looked the same. God created variety—loves variety. Jesus knew well who the Pharisee was and the woman who touched Him. When she touched Him, He was delighted. We can picture the smile on the Lord’s face because of how the Pharisee was behaving. Of course the Pharisee and the woman at His feet were different—but the Lord loved them both.
Jesus bothered to explain to the Pharisee that the woman at His feet was a daughter of God—just as worthy as he was. Which went over like a bomb! Because the Pharisee, as well as other observers of the Law, thought that by observing the Law they were earning God’s love. Given the sinful woman’s past, Jesus forgave her sins—in front of everybody. A public absolution. And the other guests were scandalized. And the Lord loved them too. Because there is no limit to God’s mercy—even with the ignorant.
The woman on the floor had sinned “big time”. With a few words from the mouth of Jesus her sins were washed away. Why? Did she ask to be forgiven? In a sense. Otherwise why were the tears flowing from her face? Why was she at the feet of Jesus and not face to face? She was willing to repent. We are not told what kind of sins she had. However, since we have a “pelvic view” of sin—we assume that they must have been sexual. Whatever they were—she had plenty. Her debt was large but her love was greater. In Jesus the woman saw her chance. She did not hesitate. Consider how we dance around coming to confession. Many say, “I have a difficult time confessing my sins.” Naturally. Do we suppose that coming to cry at the feet of Jesus was easy for the woman? Having people laugh, point fingers, murmur rumors? She was at the right place at the right time but not without effort on her part. The woman took a risk. Jesus made new followers that day and maybe lost a few. Was the woman saved? Is she in heaven? Should be no doubt in our mind. The nameless woman at the feet of Jesus represents us—all who are willing to admit their sins. The Lord smiles upon us and forgives us, over and over.
The invitation is opened to all. We make the choice. Today is our opportunity to ask forgiveness and begin a new life.